Why Mental Health Days Matter and Why We Don’t Take Them


Catherine Goodman , Editor-In-Chief

“Take a mental health day,” my friend said to me after I reluctantly confessed that I had been feeling uncharacteristically unmotivated in school. The idea was not foreign to me. I knew extensively about the new addition to sick notes and absence excuses, which led me to be incredibly jealous of those who took them because I just could not. 

The ideology behind mental health days remains controversial in my mind. The conscientious angel on my shoulder tells me the facts; that mental health is serious, unrelenting, and should be treated with the same severity as we treat any physical illness or injury. The irrational devil on my other shoulder tells me mental health days will do nothing but deter my motivation further and cause even greater, unnecessary stress. 

The cold hard truth that disables me from taking much-needed days off is the academic rigor of our school. The curriculum here is incredibly fast-paced, and while teachers are often sympathetic to their students, the mere thought of voluntarily missing school makes me shudder. It seems that taking a mental health day to get your head above water, leads to a downpour of anxiety and regret. 

Once again, I remain in a constant state of mental conflict. If I endure the consequences of missing school for physical ailments, why do I not allow myself the same leeway for my mental health? 

The answer, while unsatisfying, is quite simple, and is likely embedded into the minds of not just students, but adults everywhere. The ideology that mental health is second priority has become subconsciously ingrained into our minds. The ideology is mental health should not be spoken about as freely as we do other medical emergencies. The ideology that we should simply control our mental health demands, not give into them.

When I think back to the night my friend told me to take a mental health day, I regret not doing so. I regret letting society force an outdated doctrine into my mind. Mental health is not only serious but universal. Everyone struggles and has days of self-doubt and lethargy. Mental health is crucial and should be widely recognized as both a threat and a tool to our community. Undeniably, mental health is the key to success. 

So to my best friend with her glorious ideas, next time you suggest I let myself take a breath, I think I will.